Tag Archives: memories

The Advent Writings: holy ground

tonight I took off my shoes….

Sitting by the tree, I was studying herbs. Latin names swirled with the lights as I reached into my memory bank for their common English counterparts. Spanish names danced through, adding color and spice. Classes, and mechanisms of action, layered with properties and contraindications. The course goes back to old Materia Medica material, looking at ancient patterns of use. This rivaled my long ago nursing school pharmacology class! Where in the world did the notion of herbalists as some sort of back woods witch come from?!

The course also invites a stretch, exploring intuition and delving into story. To be a healer, a person must be a student of their own story. You cannot go where you have not gone yourself.

We watched “The Nativity” this weekend. It is a beautiful rendition of what might have been, woven with the well known threads of the story in the ancient texts. It gives permission for my imagination to wonder. As this young man ran through the town, wouldn’t someone have whispered the name of a local healer; a midwife or an herbalist? Where were the wise women? Perhaps not, as birth in its raw and natural state is most often powerful and safe. But there have always been those who honed their gifts. And in a small town, like an inner city Neighborhood, those women are called. I have gone to a woman’s house, unknown to me, with herbs to soothe or a simple syrup to calm. I have held a woman’s hand, gazing deep into her eyes and swaying in the ancient dance; and later learned her name when words returned. Who came alongside in this holy night, in space set apart by the raw power coursing through her body?

The movie also touches on the scandal. Whispers, eyes averted, the presence of absence. These things happen in small towns. My story was hushed, silence protected at all costs. Conservative circles share similarity with small towns.

The old songbook says that the rocks themselves will cry out…. I know that is true. Our very cells, scientists now know, carry cellular memory. Trauma, in particular, imprints in a bath of catecholamines embedded in sensory markers. Until the time is right, and the story births…

After the flight in the night, the refugee years in another country, they returned. Did the whispers begin anew? Small towns have long memories. Particularly around a scandal….

In the glow of the tree, as the firelight danced, conversation flowed with another young man. Teenagers need silent spaces to talk. Then another teen came and plopped down, wanting to share her writing. I looked down, and caught the outline of my Danskos kicked off under the tree. Maybe for a reason….

Perhaps this too, was holy ground. A space, set apart on a Monday, for the herbs and the wondering, teenage talks and the smell of pine.

The Advent Writings: of biscuits and home

My mom loved making biscuits. It was the 70s, the era of shortcuts: Bisquik and Pillsbury crescent rolls. From a young age, I did the biscuits. I loved popping the roll of refrigerated dough, scaring my little brother with the “bang”. Mom taught me to tuck things into the rolls; cinnamon sugar and raisins or a pat of parkay. Then we would put 2 in a muffin tin for pull aparts, or roll then pencil thin for skinny breadsticks. Sometimes, we had pigs in a blanket, with tiny “smokies” If there was extra time we would roll out the bisquik dough, patting it and cutting circles with a drinking glass. I loved those biscuits.

Mom was hard to predict. Her choices to stay numb at any cost meant I was always left guessing. Often, quite early on, I was in charge of dinner. Dad often had guests over, from the Bible college or church. The joke was we would find out in Sunday’s church bulletin. Or the secretary to the president (Dad) learned to call and double check that mom knew. My mom would rush off to the grocery store, and leave me in charge of the baking for 50. I would gather the neighbor kids, put 1 or 2 in charge of each recipe, and supervise. “…stir that one a little more” or “add the chocolate chips now, and then you can lick the bowl after.”

Growing up in AZ, baking is a seasonal affair: October to April. Then came the curve ball, as 9 years ago my body asked that I go gluten free/dairy and egg free. (This may be linked to the food patterns described above from the 70s?!).

I stopped baking. I ate store bought gf bread which needs to be charred to a Melba toast texture to be palatable. It was a base for toppings, nothing more. Finally, my mother in law had compassion, working with a gf bread recipe from a bakery in OR until it was just perfect. Every other week she made me bread.

Then my daughter developed food allergies, adding rice and sesame and chia to the mix of taboos. (Side note here, all gluten free bread found in a grocery store contains rice). For awhile, all of my experiments failed. I stopped baking.

But, in this new season in the Pacific Northwest, I am trying out baking again. Crackers and biscuits, scones and muffins. More fails mean more patience is required. The rules have changed, as the ingredients have shifted. I am starting to catch on, and having more yummy successes.

Untangling trauma takes time and hard work. But as the process of redemption unfolds, there are glimmers of good in the mix. One of those nuggets from mom is my love for baking. For those who choose to enter the hard work of story, and pursue the healing that happens, there is much to release. But this is something I choose to keep of my mother’s legacy.

As I co-create generational change, with the help of God, I bake. In Mom’s honor, we had biscuits tonight for Advent. With jam. Not Smucker’s grape jelly, but Oregon marionberry jam.

And it was very good.

Changing light

The light pools, pouring into the street below like rain. Blue white Mercury, chilling all in its path. Memories stir, drawn by the eerie light to surface. 

It was pink, warm, comforting; as much as a city light can be. He changed it, the neighbor, cherry picker in his electric truck just right for the work. 

Now the light pulls me back into the past. Another bluish light, another window, a tiny girl. The icy glow frozen in time, terror illuminated in its broad circle. 

The warmth of the rosy  light resonates within now, impenetrable by a streetlight. The memories are mine, no longer lurking in the shadows. Released from their shroud, they lose their bite of power.